Definitely out of the box!…

Launch Nostalgic

Well, I did it! Remember that box I said I was bursting out of…that new project and path I said I was going to embark on in my last post? Well, it’s happened…I am definitely out of the box and into a whole new world. I launched my new website and blog, Imperfect Zen, last Sunday…Earth Day. What’s it about? The tagline is…”Walking through life creatively, joyously, mindfully, imperfectly”…and I think that really sums it up. I won’t say much more here because, quite honestly, I worked really hard to say it well on Imperfect Zen…and I want you to go check it out!

Here’s the official site: www.imperfectzen.com

And if you’re only going to give me one or two clicks to tell you what it’s all about and decide if you’re in or not, I recommend going directly to the post: “The Imperfect Zen Resolution” and/or the About Page.

Many of you already knew about Imperfect Zen because I either told you personally or you saw it announced on my Instagram and Facebook pages. And many of you have already signed up for the Imperfect Zen “New Moon Missive” newsletter and are onboard and have sent me massive love and support. I can’t say thank you enough! You are my tribe and the foundation of Imperfect Zen.

For those of you who only follow me here, I apologize for getting the news to you a week late. One of the many things I learned this week is that it takes a lot of time and effort and hard work to launch a website! I’ve been working my butt off…and loving it.

Meanwhile, there is also some news in the world of fiction writing. I’d like to report the faint pangs of missing, even an excited longing, for my book. I’m not committing to anything one way or another, but perhaps by jumping out of the box and walking down this new path, I’ll actually be more inclined to finish my book than not. The Universe does work in mysterious ways!

Advertisements

A sign of a good friendship…

IMG_1303_Fotor

I don’t know precisely how the saying goes or if it is even really a “saying,” but the gist of it is: A sign of a good friendship is that no matter how much time passes between seeing each other you can pick up as if no time has passed at all.

Well, time has in fact passed since the Keys…a small group of would-be writers bonded over creative decisions and discussions and the pursuit of a Master’s Degree…have seen each other. It’s been at least two years since we last sat around that table discussing our writing endeavors, and five years since some of us finished that Master’s Program. And yet, last night it felt like no time had passed at all. We picked up our glasses, our banter, and our critiques with comfort. It was good to be in each others’ company, to be reassured that while some things change…projects, voices, opportunities…some things don’t…intention, interests, camaraderie.

But if we’re on the subject, the question that now presents itself to me is, do I have a good “friendship” with my writing, in all its forms…this blog, “the book,” short stories, new ideas? Time has indeed passed since I’ve given attention to any of it. Will I be able to pick up as if no time has passed at all…?

We shall see…

The tomato vine…the Maltese Falcon…the process…

Desk

A check-in is long overdue! Summer, recently filled with eerie orange skies and hot nights, devastating California fires and Texas floods, a personal call to action and unanticipated foray into gardening, lots of exercising and even more revising, is (thank goodness!) almost over. But before the bluebird flies and my favorite season arrives, what news do I have for you…?

IMG_9161First, in very old news, I’m trying a new creative experiment: associating specific creative ideas & projects with specific scents. The goal…? Twofold. First, I often can’t sit down and write when I’d like to…namely, mornings, when instead I’m heading off to work. And when I do have time to write, I don’t feel like it. So just maybe, in those moments, if the story had a certain scent…like yummy vanilla sugar…and I took a deep inhale, the urge to write might be rekindled. Second, I’d like to successfully work on more than one project. It’s not always easy to shift between worlds and characters, so I thought perhaps if I had a trigger…tomato vine for this mystery, coffee for that short story, etc…I might be able to jump in and out of multiple worlds more easily. As I say, it’s an experiment…so I’ll keep you posted.

Second, in not-quite-as-old news, as you can see from my new favorite glass above, I recently went on a walking tour of Dashiell Hammett’s San Francisco, organized by the Northern California Sisters in Crime and conducted by Don Herron, who’s been leading these tours for 40 years…since the year I was born! Don describes the nature of the tour best on his website:

Shadow Sam Spade in his quest for the fabulous figurine of a mysterious black bird. Prowl the back alleys where the Continental Op, Hammett’s longest-running detective, faced down the opposition over the barrel of his blazing .38. Follow Hammett himself as he works for the Pinkerton Detective Agency on the infamous Fatty Arbuckle case. See the spot where Spade’s partner, Miles Archer, with a smile on his mug and his pistol buttoned away under his overcoat, met swift death in the night-fog.

It’s always a joy to see a familiar place in a new way…and I certainly saw San Francisco cast in thrilling, noir shadows that revealed places and things I’d never noticed but passed by many times. Just a few photos of some of my favorite parts…

 

(And if you don’t know who Dashiell Hammett or Sam Spade are, or what the Maltese Falcon is…get thee to a bookstore now!)

Lastly, the latest news. I’ve remembered to enjoy the process! I owe this reminder to my husband…photographer, musician, and all around creative-being-extradonaire! I watch him spend hours at his arts…chasing tone, crafting songs, creating images…for the mere pleasure of it. The joy and energy he radiates after spending an evening on one guitar lick or one portrait should be bottled up and prescribed to overwrought, cynical artists of all types. Being around him has reminded me that if you’re not having fun doing what you’re doing, then you’re either missing the point or aren’t doing what you really love. (That said, I’ve also observed that by following his bliss he has courted success and opportunity…new band mates, music gigs, photography assignments…proving Julia Cameron’s point that the Universe loves happy artists and wants to help them!)

And that’s it for this summer. I’ll leave you in the pub with a cold beer listening to my inspiring husband…

IMG_4958

 

 

 

An unapologetic era…

Good morning! As I was taking Oscar for his morning walk…(for those not following on Instagram, Oscar is on his way to becoming a bona fide “Adventure Cat” under the alias of Licorice…hence the camo vest and far-reaching gaze)…I was getting caught up on Social Media and came across this quote…

“I’ve worked too hard on my happiness to be affected by people and things that don’t understand the energy and time I’ve put into myself” ~Billy Chapata

…and it gave me pause…enough pause to sit and write a post. Why…?

Perhaps because I’ve always been a people pleaser, and part of being a people pleaser is not letting others feel uncomfortable or put out, even at your own cost. As a result, we people pleasers apologize for our unique beauty, greatness, accomplishments…we diminish ourselves so others don’t have to feel less than. What many of us fail to understand before too much time has gone by or before it’s too late is that everyone’s greatness and beauty is individual…your accomplishments can’t diminish mine and vice versa because we each have our own gifts to give…and we each have our own spectacular beauty to fill the world with that that only we can offer. Unfortunately, some of us convince ourselves otherwise and spend too much of life apologizing, hiding, and negating ourselves.

Maybe it’s turning 40 or just a natural accumulation of life experiences which has made me intolerant of certain things…things like lies, cruelty, ignorance, and self-deprecation, just to name a few.

And so begins an unapologetic era…

FullSizeRender

And what a leap it was!…

…all the way from the New Year to mid-summer! How did that happen…?

Well, I can only describe the first few months in my new position at the college as truly grabbing hold of a moving train and hanging on for dear life. But hang on I did, and manage to scramble aboard and squeeze myself into a rattling car. And it’s still full steam ahead. Then, in February, I turned 40 which called for an impromptu, creative jaunt to my beloved City of Dreaming Spires.

I returned to spend hours in the backyard stripping paint off doors and window trim in anticipation of remodeling my office…at the same time spending precious last days with my feline magician assistants, Copperfield and Houdini, who left me in April and May, and took with them all joy for a time.

IMG_8690

After seventeen years of company on every life step, dream, and scheme, the world within and without was sad and uninspired without them. For a time I didn’t care if the office got finished or the book published or what filled my free time. Thankfully, that part of grief does pass. And though those two are forever in our hearts and missed daily, there is a new addition to the family who has infused it anew with youth and joy. Realizing that we still had love and a home to share…and that a real writer needs a cat companion to write anything worthwhile!…my husband brought this fellow home from the local animal shelter…

IMG_8794
He was introduced to us as a twelve-year-old Licorish, but we now know him as the more-like-four-year-old Oscar.

But in this long leap of time and all that transpired, did I take the “true leap” I wrote about in January…the daily leap into the life and identity of a writer, filled with wonder and writing and inspiration, despite everything else that can get in the way? The short answer is yes…and no. I did…just not as much as I should or could have.

When I was in Oxford I spent five blissful days researching an exciting new treasure hunt of a story…I just haven’t made much progress on the actual writing of it. And I have been wrestling with and pondering important revisions to Shadow of a Woman, with good results, making it a stronger manuscript…but I haven’t yet resubmitted to agents. And I made it to a Sisters-in-Crime meeting…but only one. Still, here I am, having leaped, stumbled, had a bit of a rough landing, but brushed myself off and am ready to go.

And that’s the reality of leaps, I suppose…

 

Fog…mourning doves…2017…

I awoke this morning to find the house enshrouded in mist. It was as if, while I slept, the fog which has so befuddled my creative senses these past six months seeped from my head with each sleeping snore, then out through the cracks of this drafty house, leaving my mind clear for the new year. It seemed almost too good to be true! But as I made my first cup of coffee, I noted a single mourning dove…symbol of female fertility and procreation…perched on the bare branches of the tree outside the window and I knew I was finally returning to my creative self!

So often people start the New Year by giving up things they love…drinking, smoking, perceived bad behavior. No pun intended, but I gave up that practice long ago! For me the New Year…this one more than ever…is about taking back. This year I vow to take back my creative courage, joy, and energy…and return to the path from which I strayed sometime last year, the end of which was particularly rough on my creativity.

Now the fog has burned off and the mourning dove departed, but I’ve captured their messages in my heart, which is excited, joyful, and inspired on this first day of 2017!